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King of the Mountain

King of the Mountain

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King of the Mountain

Lunghezza:
206 pagine
3 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Feb 21, 2001
ISBN:
9781465314581
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Eighteen year old King has been in and out of high school and in and out of town ever since his mother's nervous breakdown. When his girlfriend Jana commits suicide he flees again to escape his feelings about her death. The journey takes him to a ski town and a job in a truck-stop cafe run by Maggie, a hard woman who has suffered similar losses of her own. King meets a new girl, Sunny, and begins to carve out a life for himself by becoming one of the best skiers on the mountain. But he can't escape his past and his dangerous skiing brings him into conflict with Denny, the head of the Ski Patrol and Sunny's ex-boyfriend. Once more King turns to flee from his problems--but this time Maggie stands in his way and escape is not so easy.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Feb 21, 2001
ISBN:
9781465314581
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Paul Forster is an English teacher in Santa Barbara, California. His short stories and poetry have appeared in literary journals around the country. As a teacher he covers Death and Suicide and he wrote THE KING OF THE MOUNTAIN to give young people a novel that would not only be entertaining, but would help them grapple with the process of surviving a loss. He also teaches and takes yoga and is the father of a beautiful daughter, Annabelle.

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Anteprima del libro

King of the Mountain - Paul Forster

Forster

Copyright © 2001 by Paul Forster.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any

form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,

or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing

from the copyright owner.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the

product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to

any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book was printed in the United States of America.

To order additional copies of this book, contact:

Xlibris Corporation

1-888-7-XLIBRIS

www.Xlibris.com

Orders@Xlibris.com

Contents

THE GIRL

KING

THE GIRL

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

KING

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

KING

KING

THE GIRL

KING

THE GIRL

THE GIRL

I remember the day that King came. It was near sunset and I was walking home from the Lucky. The bus pulled up outside the laundrymat and he fell out. Just like that. I was only a few feet away and I saw it all. He was wearing jeans and a black sweatshirt and he came down the bus steps so slowly that I thought he was blind. Then he fell right on the sidewalk. I thought that the bus driver would come out to help him but the bus just drove away. I remember that hot blast of wind you always get when you’re near a bus. I was going to help him because there wasn’t a soul in sight, but then I decided he was a drunk or a bum and I didn’t. He looked like a bum, his hair was matted and his jeans were dirty. I just walked away.

I was just a girl that day. I partied, I had money, I had Elly and Pam and everyone else, and our special table at The Horn. I was happy and I never worried about the future. When a girl’s young and pretty and happy why should she worry?

Then he fell at my feet and I fell in love with him, and that hurts because he didn’t fall in love with me, not in the way that I wanted him to anyway. But he gave me something, he gave us all something—and he got something back.

It’s snowing again. A wet spring snow. It was snowing back in October when he first came to town. The Mountain everyone just calls it around here, but to the rest of the world it’s Bluebird, a little ski town in the Rockies.

KING

I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life and I must have slept for days, but the mountain finally woke me up. I opened my eyes and there it was, towering up outside my window like a cathedral of stone and ice. I’ve been looking at it for hours and I can’t decide if it’s more like a church that makes me want to confess my sins or an old king that demands justice and truth from all who sit at his knees.

It’s hard to believe the place I’m in: a little one room cabin right out of the gold-mining days. It doesn’t look like anybody’s slept in here for years: one of the windows is broken, cobwebs in all the corners, dust on all the walls and the floor, smokestains on the roof from the old black-as-soot kerosene lantern hanging from the center log, the place is like a neglected museum. A ragged, tired bearskin is on the floor and the oldest pair of skis I’ve ever seen are up on the far wall along with an ice-axe and a pair of snowshoes.

When I woke up my wallet and pack were right beside me. Those people were nice to me, are still being nice to me. I’m cold, even under all these blankets, and my stomach hurts, but that might be from hunger. I don’t know how long I was on the street before the sheriffs came, I can only remember trying to get off the bus and the driver screaming at me about being drunk. I think it was a long time though, when the sheriffs woke me up it felt like I’d been gone a long time.

Well I guess it’s the tank whether he smells like liquor or not. I heard.

Maybe we should drop him by the County first, the other one said, He looks pretty bad.

Think he’s a runaway?

Looks a little old, could be though. How old are you, son?

I tried to get up and they took my shoulders to help.

Easy does it there, easy does it. Can you talk? You need a doctor?

Just sick, just the flu, no doctor.

They looked back and forth at each other while I shivered.

Let’s take him to Maggie’s, one finally said. I could do with something myself, something might do him some good, and it’s too damn cold to do anything out here anyway.

Maggie’s it is.

They helped me into the patrol car and drove up the street just a few blocks. Soon I was sitting between them in a diner with green stools, old electric beer signs on the wall, pies in a cabinet behind the counter, truckers in the booths and a wooden floor that was so old and worn it shone. A blockhouse of a woman came out of the back room and stood before us. She had short ruffled-up hair and a square face. There were deep lines around her eyes and mouth that have her expression a tenacious look, like a pitbull. She wore a big green apron, carried a spatula in one hand and had yellow pencils sticking through the brownish hair behind each ear.

What you get there officers? she asked, coming to stand in front of us with her hands on her hips. From the way she said it I could tell I wasn’t the first the sheriffs had brought in.

Could be a runaway, answered the one in my right.

Looks too old for that, she said.

More like someone who needs a little something to give him a little strength to get him back on the road, said the one on my left. I was meant to get a meal and drift gratefully out of town.

Soup, the woman said, I couldn’t tell if it was a question or an order. I nodded.

The usual? she asked the sheriffs.

Yep, they said.

The woman put on an old baseball cap that hung from the fryer hood and went to work. I started shivering again and one of the sheriffs put his big jacket around my shoulders. I thanked him in a whisper. I didn’t think I was hungry but when the soup came it went down; the woman gave me another bowl when I was done without asking. The sheriffs waited until they had finished their meal before they spoke to me. Their voices were slow and easy as if we were talking about fishing. The woman, they called her Maggie, seemed to sense the moment of decision approaching and she came to stand across the counter again. It felt as if there were three sheriffs around me.

How’d you get here? began the one on my left.

Bus.

Why’d you come? Looking for work? asked the one on the other side.

I just had to get away.

You eighteen?

Yeah. Almost nineteen.

What were you doing in the street like that? Drugs?

No pills, no drugs, I’m just sick.

You got any money?

I answered by taking out my wallet and giving it to the one on my right.

Where’d you get this? he asked, holding up a sheaf of hundred dollar bills.

I took it out of the bank.

Why?

He’s got valid I.D., said the taller one, taking his turn to look through the wallet."

I had to get away.

Withdrawal slip’s here too, $2,500—that’s a lot of money to be lying around on the street with. Well, hell, you can afford a motel you won’t have to stay in the tank.

Where you going with all this money? the taller one asked.

I don’t know, I just had to get away.

We’ll run you down to the motel and you can get a . . .

You, look up here, Maggie spoke for the first time and both the sheriffs immediately fell silent. Come on, look up here, you’re not that sick.

I’d been hanging my head, not in anger but because I was so sick my bones were aching. I looked slowly up into strong brown eyes, eyes that were younger than the lined face around them.

What’s this about you had to get away?

I dropped my head again.

Up here, look back up here, you’re not that sick and you’re not ten years old. No wonder the sheriffs went quiet when she spoke. I looked up again. Now what’s this about you had to get away?

I didn’t want to tell her.

It doesn’t kill a man to tell the truth, she said.

I gave up, I was too tired and too sick to do anything else, My girlfriend killed herself, I finally whispered. I thought Maggie would look away but she didn’t, she kept me in her solid gaze. I was the one who had to look away. It was dead silent except for the clinking of silverware over in the booths. One of the sheriffs cleared his throat.

Leave him with me, said Maggie as if the sheriffs had given her the question of my fate. He can stay in the old cabin out back ‘til he wants to leave town. Here, you George, give him a hand, Tommy you watch the place—that means watch it, not eat the pie while I’m out. Take his other arm George, let’s get him up there.

They helped me through a back room that smelt like every restaurant I’ve ever worked in, past a small house that sat behind the diner and up a hill to this cabin. The cold air outside started me shivering again even under the sheriff’s jacket and I barely remember them pulling off my shoes and covering me with all the blankets.

I drifted off and woke up almost two days later with the smell of food in my nose and that mountain staring down at me. On the table beside the bed a bowl of soup, a sandwich and a slice of pie were waiting for me. I’ve just eaten everything and I feel better, no more fever and chills. The old lantern hanging from the roof is burning so Maggie must have lit it when she brought the food.

I just went outside to pee behind the cabin. It’s cold out there and the air has a nice smell of woodsmoke. Being on my feet makes me glad to lie down again, I’m still weak.

Jana’s the writer. I’m a guy who can barely sit through an English class. I only write when things go bad, like when I have to go to that place to see Mom and she doesn’t recognize me. Jana likes to read my class notebooks because they never have the notes they’re suppossd to have, they just ramble everywhere. She writes beautifully, but I always tell her not enough things ever happen in her stories. Jana likes to write about characters who think too much and didn’t do enough—that’s how I see it anyway. I’ve go to quit thinking about her.

Maggie just came in for a minute. She had a yellow baseball cap on and she stood in front of the bed with her hands on her hips, a spatula in one of those hands, Better? she asked.

Much better I . . .

Bunch of hungry truckers to feed, she cut me off. You take a walk tomorrow morning, not too far, then you come in and talk to me. She turned on her heels and stomped out. She’s got to be one of the most direct people I’ve ever met. It’s nice of her to put me up like this.

There’s a big October moon coming up over the mountain making it look like the kind of place where dragons live.

THE GIRL

I saw him then, when he took that first walk in the morning. I was in the Wash and Dry and he walked right by the window. I recognized the same black sweatshirt and blue jeans—I thought he looked like a rock musician because his skin was so pale and his hair so dark. I was surprised to see that he was still in town because George and Tommy, the sheriffs, keep the bums and the runaways that come through on the road—I don’t think there’s ever been a homeless person here for more than a day. We don’t get many because of the cold anyway. I was in the Wash and Dry bored stiff and hoping that Elly would get back soon, or Denny or James, or someone in the old crowd. If they were there I’m sure I wouldn’t have even noticed him go by. I wish I’d have known Maggie then, that would have given me someone to talk to. But I’d never even been in her place, no one had—it just wasn’t the kind of place the ski crowd went. I saw him take that first walk though. His head was bent and his hands were in his pockets like he was freezing, and of course he was because it’s cold up here and he was just wearing that old sweatshirt and jeans. I thought maybe he’d come to town to get work on ski patrol or the lifts or something, a lot of young people show up in October looking for work.

KING

I went in to talk to Maggie after my first walk a few days ago. I was frozen and my ears were burning. I think there were even dead leaves in my hair from the wind. The diner was empty but Maggie was busy wiping up tables and pouring salt into shakers. After a few minutes she threw her rag on top of the hot chocolate machine, slid me a cup of coffee across the counter, hung her yellow cap on the fryer hood and came to stand in front of me with her hands on her hips. She put a hand through her rumpled hair and shifted her weight a little. The way she looked at me and waited reminded me of being called into the principal’s office the last time I got kicked out of school.

Feet hurt? I asked to break the silence.

Always. What’s your name?

King. I decided right then and there that I was going to stay King for Ernie’s sake.

King what?

Just King.

Your from California?

I nodded.

Every messed up kid I ever met is from California. King, huh?

Yeah.

Well King, you don’t look so hot.

I feel okay.

"You don’t look it. You’re getting on to be a kid, how old are ν

you?»

«Eighteen, almost nineteen.»

«Half man, half kid. Got to get a pie out.» She went into the back room.

I watched the water flow in the Olympia Beer sign up on the wall and looked at some of the other things she had up; mostly old advertisements and logos from packing crates like Chippewa Pears, Diamond Apples and Jorden Brother’s Fresh Produce. She also had one or two framed black and white sketches of mountains that looked like a friend had given them to her.

Maggie came back and stood in front of me again, «What you going to do now?»

«I don’t know,» I had trouble holding her eye.

«You pretty torn up?»

I bit my lip and nodded.

She waited for me to go on; when I didn’t she said, «I know you’re a laborer, by your hands. You finish high school?»

«Almost.»

«Almost? Is that yes or no?»

«No.»

«Why?»

«I don’t know. I guess the things they teach don’t interest me much so I keep taking off.»

She waited a minute, looking at me so hard I had to look away. The wind kicked up and smacked some leafs into the window. «You got

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